Email Clients 2012: The iPhone 5 effect

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I enjoy looking at the system-wide statistics produced from all of the emails our clients send. Whilst doing so I discovered a couple of interesting points regarding mobile usage from 2012 which I’d like to share.

You no doubt will have read information from our friends at Litmus and Campaign Monitor about how mobile clients, and iOS devices in particular, are overtaking other email clients in terms of the opens we see. Just see the changes between the red iPhone line and the green Outlook line on our chart above! Of course this means you should be considering how your emails will appear on these devices, and be taking advantage of responsive design techniques, but enough about that!

I’m sure there are lots of reasons why mobile take-up is so strong, but what interests me are the not-so-little spikes in the latter part of the year. Both at the start of October (week 40 on the chart) and the very last week of the year show spikes in mobile usage, and a comparative drop in the desktop clients.

Of course, I’m sure we can all understand what might have caused a change in usage at the end of the year: with so much of the population taking holiday at Christmas time, then it should hardly be a surprise that people are sneaking a quick check of their emails on their mobile rather than sitting down at their desk (and there’s probably a few Christmas presents in there too!) Senders of business-to-business emails should already be considering how many of their recipients are reading their emails on their company phones, but I wonder how many of those recipients who usually only use their company’s desktop software were¬†suddenly¬†faced with badly-formatted emails when using their mobiles at home?

So what about the first week of October? Any guesses?

Well, the fact that this spike is only for the iPhone (and not also iPad and Android as at Christmas) should give it away. Does anyone remember a certain well-publicised press event a few weeks earlier? Apple’s iPhone 5 was launched in September, and went on sale in the first week of October 2012.

You may have predicted that the iPhone 5 release would have taken a share of ‘opens’ from other mobile inboxes, as a result of consumers switching from an Android or Blackberry device to the iPhone 5. However this was not the case and it was in-fact desktop mail clients such as Outlook and Apple Mail that took a big hit!

I’m looking at this with the benefit of hindsight, a table full of stats, and the memory of watching the media event and surrounding buzz. But did you anticipate this massive uplift in emails being opened on mobile devices? Did you implement any mobile responsive design practices in your emails, or perhaps use our email client segmentation to specifically target iPhone recipients with a relevant offer? We’d love to hear of some examples!

Now it must also be noted that shortly after the iPhone saw this massive uplift in opens, that it’s opens settled back down to a normal level pretty quickly. This shows that the novelty factor of playing with a new phone was the main reason for this spike. That said, the graph does show a healthy and consistent growth of iPhone opens.

If you would like to discuss how Emailcenter can help with your mobile email marketing strategy, get in touch.

Alternatively, download our free mobile email marketing toolkit.

About Chris Minett

As our Technical Operations Manager, Chris oversees and brings together the Client Services, Product Support and Development Teams. He has previously worked for four years as a Developer in our core Maxemail development, after having joined Emailcenter in 2008 as Campaign Manager and moving to Implementation Manager in 2009.